Three powerful reasons why summaries help you sell!

Last week I wrote that there are at least five reasons why the interim summary is the most powerful communication skill in selling, and I promised you that today I would share them with you.  I’ll cover the first three today.  Here goes.

Gregory at Medtronic 10-2010 CroppedReason Number One: Let me explain the first big reason by responding to one reader’s comment that he thought listening was the most important communication skill. Certainly the ability to listen is very powerful, but the number one benefit of the interim summary is not only that you have to listen to be able to do it effectively, but the summary lets your customer KNOW that you are listening! And that’s even better.

So if I’m speaking to you and you’re really listening to me, and you paraphrase something I said, then you grow in my esteem. Why? Because like everyone else, I have an ego, and I like it when people show they’re interested in what I have to say.  Nearly everyone shares this trait.  Don’t you like it when someone says to you, “I’d like your opinion on this”?

When you respond with an interim summary during the conversation, you show respect to the person you’re speaking with, and that is a very nice gift.

Reason Number Two:  Injecting short summaries into the conversation helps ensure accuracy of information in two different ways.  For example, your prospect may have misspoken or been unclear, and you say,

“So it sounds as though all your equipment breakdowns are slowing down your output.”

And your prospect says,

“Oh, not at all.  I was just referring to our packaging equipment, and I think that’s just temporary.”

Here, your summary allows him to clarify an issue he had spoken vaguely about.  But if earlier he had mentioned it was the packaging equipment, now the same summary helps you understand the issue, even though your prospect was very clear. Summaries help people communicate more accurately, in these two ways, and accuracy of information is critical to any important conversation.

Reason Number Three:  Summaries allow you to control the conversation.  You asked for the appointment, you sent the agenda; it’s your meeting.  As a skilled communicator you can use summaries to transition the conversation from one topic to the next, controlling the time and content of every topic:

“I think I have a pretty clear picture of some of the challenges:  the lack of timely reporting and a slowdown of your receivables. Now let’s talk about how that’s interfering with your ability to forecast.”

See what happened here?  You summarized the two key points from the last topic, tied a bow around them, and transitioned to a discussion of a critical pain point, forecasting, which you will not only summarize later on, but intend to solve with a recommendation of your own at the end of the meeting.

Are you starting to see the value of the summary after these three examples?  We have at least two more to discuss and you can read them here next week.  Meanwhile…

Think Like Your Customer

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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